Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ending the De Facto “Woman’s License to Kill” in Chicago - 1920

FULL TEXT: Chicago, Aug. 22, Chicago’s unfavorable record of jury leniency toward woman murderers in general, and husband killers in particular, which has for years kept the criminal court judiciary in a state bordering on frenzy, is rapidly nearing an end, according to a statement by Judge Frank E. Johnston Jr., who says juries of the near future will be comprised of men and women.

“And when women judge members of their own sex, it is a sure thing that no more sentimentality will effect the prisoner’s release. Women jurors will vote to convict a guilty woman every time, and we intend to make Chicago safe for husbands.”

The ratification of the suffrage amendment by the required number of States duly qualifies women as legal voters. The statute relative to the choice of jurors states that they shall be chosen from electors possessing legal characteristics. The suffrage amendment places women on a legal par with masculine voters. They are electors.

“Chicago attorneys are unanimous in agreeing that women are now eligible for serving in the jury box.”

“However," Judge Johnson says, “there are a great many difficulties in the way of having mixed juries and very likely the whole matter will have to be worked out by experimentation.”

Then there is the question of whether women are too inclined to permit their emotions to guide their decision as to make them capable of meting out justice. Prominent women attorneys interviewed believe women would display leniency, especially toward men, and that the experiment might work well in civil cases if judges were careful to explain the points of law. However, the matter is to be threshed out by jury commissioners this coming week.

[“Make Chicago Safe For Husbands, Task For Women Jurors – Sterner Verdicts Expected By Officials When The Lady Voters Get Busy.” Syndicated, The San Antonio Express (Tx.), Aug. 23, 1920, p. 2]


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